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Thursday, August 18, 2005

Sheehan leaves antiwar camp
'Peace Mom' to return to California to be with ailing mother
08/18/05 07:39 PM, EDT
The California woman who has camped outside President Bush's ranch for nearly two weeks to protest the war in Iraq said Thursday she is leaving temporarily to tend to her ill mother.

This is What Terrorists Do

Yesterday, the world's biggest cowards carried out a series of bombings in Baghdad. They were timed so that the second went off as rescue and emergency personnel arrived to deal with the carnage, and the third targeted medical and emergency personnel and victims arriving at the hospital. These worms are repositories of the worst kind of cowardice, and instruments of the most hypocritical and vile form of religious extremism. Words cannot express how grateful I am that there are Heroes who meet this enemy head on.

Baghdad Bombing

A man sifts through the wreckage of a bus destroyed by two car bombs at a bus terminal in central Baghdad, Iraq, Aug. 17, 2005. Terrorists carried out multiple suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device attacks. Attacks occurred in a bus terminal, outside the terminal and then at the hospital where the casualties were taken for treatment. U.S. Army photo

Local residents examine the wreckage of vehicles in the aftermath of two car bomb attacks at a bus terminal in central Baghdad, Iraq, Aug. 17, 2005. Terrorists carried out multiple suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device attacks. Attacks occurred in a bus terminal, outside the terminal and then at the hospital where the casualties were taken for treatment. U.S. Army photo

Local residents examine the wreckage of vehicles in the aftermath of two car bomb attacks at a bus terminal in central Baghdad, Iraq, Aug. 17, 2005. Terrorists carried out multiple suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device attacks. Attacks occurred in a bus terminal, outside the terminal and then at the hospital where the casualties were taken for treatment. U.S. Army photo

Buses parked near a terminal in central Baghdad were destroyed by two car bombs, Aug. 17, 2005. Terrorists carried out multiple suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device attacks. Attacks occurred in a bus terminal, outside the terminal and then at the hospital where the casualties were taken for treatment. U.S. Army photo
SQUAD LEADER — U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. James Thompson, a squad leader assigned to Company I, 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment, provides security with Iraqi Security Force soldiers and U.S. Marines during a patrol in Hit, Iraq, Aug. 6, 2005. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Ken Melton

Got My Bracelets Today...

The Bracelets I ordered from the Santa Ana Ladies' Auxiliary of the Veterans of Foreign Wars arrived today. Let me tell you, the pictures don't do them justice. They're a way to support an organization that helps our Heroes - and a darned nice fashion statement, too. I've got the red-white-and-blue with small hearts, and the yellow-and-black-ribbons bracelets. Stop by and order yours.

And don't forget to do what you can for Project Valour-IT, providing vital communication avenues for our wounded heroes
Pacific Ocean (Aug. 17, 2005) - An F/A-18C Hornet, assigned to the “Golden Dragons” of Strike Fighter Squadron One Nine Two (VFA-192), conducts a high-speed pass prior to breaking the speed of sound near the conventionally powered aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63). Kitty Hawk and embarked Carrier Air Wing Five (CVW-5) are currently returning to their homeport after a scheduled deployment in the 7th Fleet area of responsibility. U.S. Navy photo by Photographer’s Mate 3rd Class Jonathan Chandler

Weighing in on the Drama Mama

I've been silent on the topic of Cindy Sheehan until now - largely because the topic has been covered thoroughly elsewhere, and I didn't really have anything new to add. But I felt moved to throw in a few thoughts today, so here they are.

With the recent news that her husband is seeking a divorce, and her family has largely disowned her, the true scope of this story is emerging. And when it all comes down to it, the story is less about the war than about a mother's failure to accept death, and the media's dogged coverage of a story in complete disregard for the fact that they're just making things worse.

Part of my education in my former career as a counselor included "Death, Dying and Bereavement." The five stages of grief are widely used to illustrate the process of coping with loss. One of them is Anger:

...At this point, we have gotten past some or all of the denial, but now we are angry about the loss. We may want to take it out on something or someone, or we may just express our anger in ways that are familiar to us.

Many people have talked about Ms. Sheehan's protest being an insult to her son, and people have made accusations of her using her son's loss to catapault her own agenda into the media fray. She's even been asked for her opinion on the Gaza pullout, for pete's sake! But I think what we're seeing here is the result of a woman who's dealing with immeasurable grief by deflecting her anger at an identifiable symbol of it. And it may be that in those that have joined her in Texas, she finds comfort. Her son's death isn't senseless if it's all Bush's fault, and she can make something come of it. She can't do anything to the terrorist murderer who actually killed him. But Bush is here. Still, deflecting her anger into this crusade isn't going to help. The fact is, a terrorist killed her son. Terrorists have killed a lot of American sons - and daughters. It isn't fair, and it never will be. No protest is going to change that. And grief doesn't magically disappear when you deflect it. It just festers, and continues the damage.

From where I sit, it is simply profoundly sad. In her inability to come to terms with her son's loss, she's going to lose her marriage, and possibly see irreparable damage done to her relationship with the rest of her family. Cindy Sheehan, in the end, isn't a symbol of anything. She isn't the spearhead of a movement. She's a woman obviously in need of help dealing with an agonizing loss.

And shame on the media for capitalizing on that to fuel their lust for anything anti-war and anti-Bush.
While patrolling through the streets of Iraq, Marines and sailors often find themselves under the watchful eyes of the city’s residents. One corpsman seems to receive more stares than anyone else. Petty Officer 3rd Class Chan Vang is only 4 feet 11 inches tall. However, height does not interfere with his job as a “devil doc” with I Company, 3rd Battalion, 25th Marine Regiment...
More at Marine Corps News

'Able Danger' and Lessons to be Learned

If you listen to, or read the news today, you'll find this story all over the place:
Prewar Memo Warned of Gaps in Iraq Plans

It's the same old song, really, recycled again to show how we're losing in Iraq. Problem with that? We're NOT. Been there, heard it, tired of it. Apparently these word-processing generals think that wars has no unknowns, that somehow we have DoD employees with precognition. It's a war, for crying out loud. You can never count on what's going to happen with the enemy. You plan, you prepare, but nothing is a given. What's interesting in this one, though, is the fact that here we have an old story, played again and again in differing versions, that's getting as much newsplay as this one (or more):

'Able Danger' Could Rewrite History

Now, here's a scary story. The 9/11 Commission (a copy of that report is sitting right next to me on the desk here) was sharply critical of U.S. intelligence agencies' failure to share information, or to consider outside information. And yet they were told twice about Able Danger, and chose to ignore it.

The Clinton Administration's failure to deal with Bin Laden isn't a new revelation. It was that very same Administration that failed to capture or kill him when they had the chance. But here is information that told of terrorists IN THIS COUNTRY, known terrorists, that was ignored on Clinton's watch. Not just missed. Intentionally ignored. One of the reasons? The possibility of political fallout.

Blame for 9/11 has flown in all directions (including the loonies who say Bush knew about it and wanted it to happen). Let's get this straight. It is NOT Clinton's fault that 9/11 happened. It is NOT Bush's fault that 9/11 happened. It is NOT the fault of the FBI, or the CIA, or the TSA, or any other U.S. agency. Blame for 9/11 rests solely on Al Qaeda - with Osama Bin Laden, and 19 people who decided to hijack planes and murder innocent people.

That being said, the Able Danger story does illustrate a few very, very important things about how our governmental failings create opportunities for those who want to attack us.

1. Democrats, in their "politically correct" approach to everything, have a major failing when it comes to dealing with terrorists. In their repeated calls to understand the terrorists, their desire not to make terrorists hate us, and their monumental concerns about their image, they repeatedly fail to call these people what they are: The Enemy. And when you don't identify the enemy, it's hard to deal with them appropriately.

2. Although the 9/11 Commission did a fair job of identifying some pretty significant issues, they were far from a comprehensive analysis. If we had information that could have led to the capture of these terrorists, but didn't use it, how is that not important? The report wasn't completely bad, but there was still a bit of an anti-Bush agenda driving that train. And no one, but no one, wanted to criticize the Clinton Administration.

3. The failures - and the agenda - of the Clinton Administration caused almost disastrous damage to our ability to defend ourselves.

Clinton is still the darling of the Dems. Could you imagine if anyone was saying that the Bush Administration was flat out TOLD about terrorists in this country - flat out TOLD that these people were members of Al Qaeda - and they chose to ignore it? Worse yet, chose not to take the risk of political fallout in order to protect the country? What would the headlines look like then?

Clinton's presidency resulted in serious compromises in national security. To name a few:

* The CIA and NSA found their budgets slashed beyond recognition. That, coupled with the laws forbidding the CIA from operating inside the US, or sharing information with the FBI, were hampering the ability of those agencies to do their jobs, and Clinton knew it. In addition, Clinton made decisions that allowed the compromise of sensitive information (allowing a Chinese national access to secret technology), released people convicted of releasing classified information, and generally made this country less secure. There are darker allegations, too.

Jim Woolsey, President Clinton’s first CIA director from 1993-95, remembers pleading with the White House to fight budget cuts imposed by the Democrat majority on the Senate intelligence committee. But Clinton disliked the intelligence community, and Woolsey had only two private meetings with him in two years. When a light plane crashed into the south side of the White House, Woolsey says, the staffers inside joked that it was the CIA director trying to get an appointment in the Oval Office. (from Free Republic)

* Under the Clinton Administration, intelligence about Al-Qaeda (and it's connection to Iraq) was ignored, and there was a complete failure to work with those who knew the score (Sudan...)

* Under the Clinton Administration, shortfall of revenue for its own defense planning was pervasive. No, poor planning is not solely a Clinton issue when it comes to defense spending. Bush I made military cuts too - urged on by a Democrat Congress. What's even more frightening is how the budgeting was done. Some pay increases were planned for (which is a good thing), but improving technology was not. Clinton's cuts to defense spending were catastrophic to some programs. Under his administration, almost $11 billion in Pentagon spending was not related to defense - $11 billion for AIDS and cancer research, environmental issues...someone please tell me how this ends up in a Defense budget?? I'm not saying that funding shouldn't exist for those programs, but it certainly sounds like shady math to me. And Clinton's animosity for the military isn't exactly a secret. Clinton used the military when it was convenient. A person who dodged the draft then hides behind the "I'm the Commander-in-Chief" argument when he's on the hot seat. To me, it was the slimiest of arguments, and a complete insult to the military.

Side note: I actually heard someone on the radio the other day say that Bush didn't serve in the military. When it was pointed out that yes, he did, the caller responded that "Well, yeah, he was in the National Guard or whatever, [but that's not the same]". I wonder if our National Guard personnel currently deployed think that? And as a side note, criticisms of the inadequacy of our military that rest largely on the deployment of National Guard and Reserve troops are a little short-sighted. National Guard and Reserve troops were deployed in Vietnam, too

Bottom line is, Able Danger should be a HUGE story. Not because it shows that 9/11 was Clinton's fault - because it wasn't. But because it illustrates the consistent failure of the Left to deal with terrorists. Quite frankly, they never have had - and don't have now - the stones for it.

The Right isn't in the clear on this either. The Dems' current push to make themselves look like the champions of border security (while vetoing restrictions on providing licenses to non-citizens and other measures that curtail the carte blanche of illegals) has shown us something else, too. The Republicans are also failing to take needed steps to secure our borders, and secure our country. As has been said before, Political Correctness is killing us - literally. (Pre-9/11, an FBI agent applied for a warrant on suspicious Islamists that turned out to be involved in that attack. It was denied by a judge who didn't want to be accused of profiling).

The Dems' hug-a-terrorist, anti-military, can't-we-all-just-get-along philosophy is short-sighted, irresponsible, and deadly. And the Republicans aren't exactly making the tough decisions, either.

9/11 is the fault of those who planned and carried out the attacks. But they found willing enablers in this country - all who knew of and ignored the risks. If we don't solve that, there is no doubt that something just as bad, or worse, is coming.

Blogging about 'Able Danger' and related issues:
Michelle Malkin
Austin Bay
Quill News
The Astute Blogger
Noble Eagle
Military Matters
Open Fire

Mega Hat Tip to the Mudville Gazette
IRAQ DUTY — U.S. soldiers from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 34th Armor, visit with children in Kanan, Iraq, Aug. 10, 2005. U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Suzanne M. Day

In Today's News - Thursday, August 18, 2005

Quote of the Day
"Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness. All the things we are so accustomed to that we sometimes take for granted. We should all stop occasionally and reflect on the price the young men of America have paid to secure our way of life. And all they ask is that we pass our precious heritage along intact to our children and our childrens' children, as it has been preserved for us."
-- Former POW Arthur Hoffson, Colonel USAF (ret.)

News of Note
Operation Iraqi Freedom
Iraq Bomb Kills 4 U.S. Soldiers
Iraq enjoys some of world's cheapest gas
Compromise sought on Iraq constitution

Operation Enduring Freedom
Afghan Bomb Kills Two GIs
Airborne, Enemy Clash in Operation Neptune

Gaza Withdrawal
Soldiers Storm Gaza Synagogues
White House Keeps Eye on Pullout
Tears, Rage as Settlers Evicted
Children on Front Line of Pullout
Gaza Palestinians Welcome Pullout
Video: FNC: Hardline Settlers Evicted
Video: Israeli Ambassador on Pullout
FOX Talks to Mom Being Evicted
Photo Essay: Israel Begins Forcible Evacuations
Gaza evictions wrench settlers and troops
Woman sets herself on fire in Israel
Palestinians cheer Gaza Strip withdrawal
Pullout revives exiles' hopes to go home
Rice calls Gaza withdrawal 'dramatic moment' - NYT

Homeland Security / War on Terror
Saudis: Country's Al Qaeda Leader Killed in Shootout
Moroccan to learn fate at Hamburg 9/11 retrial
Muslim Prison Gang May Have Plotted Terror Attack
Police Question 50 in Bangladesh Bombings

News of the Weird
Fisherman dies chasing fish that stole his pole

Fox News
ABA Endorses Roberts

Seattle Post-Intelligencer: War on Iraq
Libya urges Bulgaria to pay for medics
Philippine maids seek shelter from abuse
U.N.: Sudan rebel group committed to peace
Palestinian banners fuel U.N. dispute
Aspiring Egypt leaders launch campaigns
Group criticizes Iraq constitution panel
Iraq leader paves way for legal hangings

Reuters: Top News
Foreign diplomats press Iraq talks; 4 US troops killed
Lawyer for Brazilian urges UK police chief to quit
U.S. lawyers group gives Roberts highest rating Associated Press
Russia, China kick off military exercises
Panel challenges NASA over shuttle safety
Infection rates in new Windows worm low

Yahoo! News: War with Iraq
Iraq's Aziz lawyer says expects his release soon
US to send 700 extra troops to Iraq to reinforce prisons
Japan party to pull Iraq troops

Department of Defense
Rumsfeld in Peru for Security Talks — Story
Rumsfeld Wraps Up Paraguayan Visit — Story Transcript Photos
Rumsfeld, Paraguayan President Reaffirm Ties
Chairman Encouraged by Meetings in Iraq — Story
Myers: Expectations Not Lowered in Iraq
Constitution Delay Will Not Affect Operations
Casey Predicts Success in Iraq Mission

Coalition 'Team Village' Assists Afghans — Story Photos
Australian Commodore Turns Over Command — Story
Task Force Thanks Local Iraqis for Support — Story

Scouting Program Grows in Iraqi Community
Task Force Baghdad Visits Children's Hospital
101st Airborne Div. Headquarters Nears Completion

Medical Outreach Visit Treats Afghan Villagers

Airmen Focus on Work to Move Supplies

Injured Soldier Returns to Iraq -- Story

Wounded Troops Join Powwow — Story

Ad Diwaniyah Police Get New Cars
Two U.S. Soldiers Killed
Car Bombs Kill Dozens Photos
Iraq Reconstruction
Iraq Daily Update
Multinational Force Iraq
Iraq Progress Fact Sheet (pdf)
Weekly Progress Report (pdf)
'Eye on Iraq' (pdf)
'Boots on the Ground' Audio Archive
Fact Sheet: Helping Women in Iraq

Canadians to Command PRT
Forces Kill 6 Enemy Combatants
Afghanistan Daily Update

UAV Use Expands in Terror War
Exercise Tests Attack Response
Waging and Winning the War on Terror
Terrorism Timeline
Terrorism Knowledge Base

DoD Recognizes Top Installations
Troops, Families Enjoy Cookout
Initiative Focus: Preparedness
National Guard, Reserve Update

Officials Identify Army Casualty — Story

Al Azamiyah Al Basrah Al Hillah Al Karkh Al Kazimiyah Al Kut An Nasiriyah Baghdad Baqubah Mosul Najaf Nineveh Tall Kayf

Bost/Laskar Ghurian Herat Kabul Qandahar


Today in History
1587 - Virginia Dare becomes the first English child born in the New World.
1686 - Cassini reports seeing a satellite orbiting Venus.
1817 - Gloucester, MA, newspapers report the offshore sighting of a wild sea serpent.
1834 - Mt. Vesuvius erupts.
1846 - General Stephen W. Kearney's U.S. forces captures Santa Fe, NM.
1864 - Day 1 of 3 of the Battle of Weldon Railroad (Petersburg campaign).
1894 - Congress establishes the Bureau of Immigration.
1914 - President Woodrow Wilson issues the Proclamation of Neutrality.
1920 - Tennessee ratifies the 19th Amendment, guaranteeing women the right to vote.
1930 - Eastern Airlines begins passenger service.
1938 - F.D.R. dedicates the Thousand Islands Bridge, connecting the U.S. and Canada.
1943 - The final convoy of Jews from Salonika, Greece arrive at Auschwitz.
1954 - Assistant Secretary of Labor James Wilkins becomes the first African American to attend a Cabinet meeting.
1961 - Construction on Berlin Wall is completed.
1976 - The U.S.S.R.'s Luna 24 soft-lands on the Moon.

472 - Flavius Ricimer, general of the Western Roman Empire, kingmaker
1587 - Virginia Dare, first American born of English parents
1778 Fabian Gottlieb von Bellinghausen, first to circumnavigate Antarctica
1792 John, first Earl Russell, British Whig PM (1846-52, 1865-66)
1904 Sterling W. Cole (Rep-NY)
1917 Casper Weinberger, U.S. Secretary of Defense (1981-87)
1919 Walter J. Hickel (Gov-Alaska) / U.S. Secretary of the Interior (1969-71)
1924 - Mohammad Zia Ul-Haq, president of Pakistan (1978-88)
1927 - Rosalynn Carter, First Lady to President Jimmy Carter

1227 - Genghis Khan, Mongol conqueror
1961 - Learned Hand, Chief judge of US court of Appeals
1990 - B.F. Skinner, psychologist

Reported Missing in Action
Uom, Chem Barung (Thailand); released - deceased

Rykoskey, Edward J., USMC (PA); disappeared when his patrol was ambushed, KIA, body not recovered

Davis, Daniel R., USAF (GA); O1A shot down over Laos, remains ID'd August, 1995

Kuykendall, Willie C., US Army (MS); drowned during attempt to recover track vehicle in river, body not recovered
Weaks, Melvin L., US Army (NC); drowned trying to reach Kuykendall, body not recovered